Researchers have discovered a new drug-delivery mechanism that could treat infectious diseases like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) without destroying healthy cells or causing the bacteria to develop drug resistance. The discovery was made by researchers from IBM and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.
The new types of polymers used in the research physically detect and destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria. When they come into contact with water in or on the body, they self-assemble into a new polymer structure that is designed to target bacteria membranes and break through their cell membranes and walls. The physical nature of this action prevents bacteria from developing resistance to these nanoparticles. The nanoparticles detect bacteria membranes based on electrostatic interaction and as a result they don’t destroy healthy cells.
If commercially manufactured, these biodegradable nanostructures could be injected directly into the body or applied topically to the skin.
The full research paper on this discovery, “Biodegradable nanostructures with selective lysis of microbial membranes”, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Chemistry.